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A Picture of Jeremy Cook, Tim Luckhurst, Steven Beckett, and 2 students at the Matriculation Signing

South College is busier than any time since the beginning of Michaelmas Term. More than 350 Southies are in residence, and I am sure I detected a sly smile on Oswald's normally inscrutable face this morning. He is always happy in Reception, not least because the company is excellent, but the attention of South College students flatters his ego.

He is a proud mascot, and he does appreciate attention. He was thrilled when I gave him the dates of our Easter Term formals. He has been preening his feathers in anticipation of resuming his favourite role. 

Dorothy - Mrs Principal - and I were really pleased to be able to drop into the CafĂ©/Bar for a nightcap on the Saturday before term began. It was not too cold to sit outside, and it was good to see several tables full of students enjoying a civilised drink. The bar team do a great job and there is now an expanded range of drinks, snacks, and hot food available.  Rain does not make for the best al fresco drinking, but as the sun returns, I encourage you to book a table and enjoy an evening out without going into town. We have an excellent bar, and you'll find our outdoor tables a lot less cramped than some of the alternatives. 

The special highlight of the week was the signing of the University's Matriculation Book. Throughout the twentieth century and beyond, two students from each Durham College - one undergraduate and one postgraduate - have signed during the Fresher's week matriculation ceremony in Durham Cathedral. As we all recall, this was cancelled in 2020, and we compensated with a series of South College ceremonies in The Hub and the JCR.  We will always have our own ceremony, but it was crucial that, in this foundation year, two students should have the honour of signing the Matriculation Book for South.

I am immensely grateful to Crystal Truong (UG, Biological Sciences) and Sakunkan (Patt) Neesung (PG, Management and Marketing) for taking on this responsibility. It was a real privilege to accompany Crystal and Patt to the Teaching and Learning Centre for the signing ceremony. Jeremy Cook, PVC Colleges, presided with great dignity and explained the significance of the event. Crystal and Patt are now the first South College students to sign a truly historic document. By doing so, they became part of South College and DU history. Crystal and Patt did a great job on our behalf. It was additionally kind of Adam Langworthy and Kayleigh Allen, Pioneer Scholars, to greet us with the traditional banging of saucepans when we returned to college after the ceremony.  

I write this in anticipation of our first College formal since Michaelmas Term. I did not think we would have to wait so long. Now, we will offer two formals per week following exams.  I hope to see every Southie at one. Oswald is, of course, looking forward to many toasts to 'Libertas, Aequalitas, Civitas Totius Mundi'. He is not classically trained, and I suspect he imagines it is the Latin for 'Hail, Oh Mighty and Magnificent Oswald'. I will not shatter his delusions.